Guy Fieri, the frosted-tipped host of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, hasn’t had a great month thanks to Pete Wells’ hilarious (if perhaps over-the-top) New York Times review of his newest restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar. We caught up with Fieri just after he wrapped up filming an upcoming Toronto episode of DDD and right before he hosted the Chef’s Challenge, a fundraiser that supports breast and ovarian cancer research at Mount Sinai Hospital. Here’s what he had to say about his personal connection to the cause, his impressions of Toronto and the already-infamous review:
Why is this cause important to you?
My sister passed away almost two years ago to cancer, and it’s not a club you want to be in. But if you are going to be in that club, you have two choices: you can be pissed about it and do nothing with that energy or you can choose to apply it.
Had you met any of the Canadian chefs who’ll be competing at the event tonight?
The only chef I’ve met before is Chuck [Hughes]. David Rocco is a real badass; we’ve been talking about going to Italy and going truffle hunting together. Lynn Crawford could totally be my relative, a sister from another mister.
Tonight’s event is set up Iron Chef style; which of the Iron Chefs would you most want to go up against?
Probably Bobby [Flay] or Michael Symon. I’d hope for pork as the mystery ingredient; I’ve got a great pork repertoire.
Why did you decide to shoot a Toronto episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives?
When we were invited to come up for the fundraiser, I decided we should try to shoot some Triple D up here. We had such great success in Vancouver. The research team started five, six months ago. We shot six locations in under a week and had a blast up here.
Can you confirm for us the restaurants that made the cut?
Caplansky’s, Hey Meatball!, Rosedale Diner, The Ace, The Lakeview and The Stockyards. Every place was the real deal: scratch-made, lots of enthusiasm, quaint joints, neat neighbourhoods.
What’s the best thing you’ve tasted so far?
That’s kind of like asking, “Who’s your favourite kid?” But probably the smoked meats.
Is this your first time visiting Toronto?
It’s my first trip to Toronto, but we’re going to have go come back north because there are just some really, really neat locations. We’ll also have to hit Montreal.
Any other lasting Toronto impressions?
You guys have got to start publicizing what a great place this is as a destination for food! You’ve got a real nest of great places and really cool neighbourhoods.
Finally, we have to ask: any comment on the New York Times review?
We’re not talking about that.